Are Chatbots Right For Your Business? Jonathan Herrick Imagine if you could order your coffee via text. You open up a new message, speak your order, and receive a response saying it’ll be ready for you at the pick-up counter. It’s like having your own personal barista right within your smart device. Starbucks is just one of many brands turning to chatbots to deliver a better experience and a new channel to boost product sales. But chatbots aren’t just limited to ordering coffee, placing a food order, purchasing shoes, paying a water bill, or checking out the forecast. Chatbots are also being infused into everyday sales processes for B2B businesses, big and small alike. From inbox tools like x.ai that help read your inbox and assist with scheduling meetings for you to Facebook messenger bots such as MobileMonkey that are designed to have automated one-to-one conversations with your visitors with the objective of driving them to a conversion goal. It’s easy to see why so many businesses are excited about this cutting-edge technology. But for some, it can be a bit overwhelming to wrap their heads around whatever the latest “customer experience” or “digital marketing” buzzword is. This leads to one big question: Is it worth investing money in this now, or should I sit tight? Well, let’s play a game of “You might need a chatbot if…” You might need a chatbot if… You sell a product that involves a lot of questions before purchasing. Let’s face it time is money for your business. So if you find your sales team answering a lot of same pre-purchase questions over and over again from your prospects and customers, you might need a chatbot. Chatbots can engage with prospects online to answer commonly asked questions from pricing to product demonstrations—all while freeing up valuable time for your sales team. Intelligent chat tools eliminate tedious conversations with tire kickers and help your business focus more time on qualified opportunities. Chatbots are also a great way to shorten the sales cycle. By gathering personal data on prospects early in the process, salespeople don’t have to spend hours a day compiling data in your CRM. Instead, they can focus on the activities closest to the money—like generating contracts and closing deals. You are looking to deliver a more personalized online experience. Times are a changin’. People want answers and assistance when they want it. Whether is 10 PM or 2 AM. Despite your best intentions, energy, or passion, it’s impossible to give every single customer or potential customer the attention they need immediately. The truth is studies show that over 50% of customers expect businesses to be open 24/7. So if you’re looking for ways to deliver a personalized experience look no further than a chatbot. With a chatbot, people aren’t forced to speak with someone unless they absolutely need to, and you have energy left over to deal with more complex customer problems while your chatbot handles quick and common inquiries. You are searching for more qualified leads—at scale. If you’re like most businesses, you’re always looking for new ways to fill the marketing and sales pipeline with more qualified leads. The challenge is, in order to drive more quality leads, you need to hire more salespeople or to increase your marketing spend. And there’s the rub. It isn’t scalable for most businesses. Chatbots can deliver a better ROI from sales and marketing resources you already have in place. By using a chatbot to ask sales questions to your visitors such as company size, buying time frame and specific challenges, your sales team will get warmed up conversions from your bot that otherwise would have probably not engaged. And as your online conversations scale, you don’t have to worry about adding extra manpower to qualify your leads—your chatbot has it covered. You’d like to boost your business’s brand. A chatbot instantly does two things. It offers an alternative way for customers to interact with your brand to gather the information they need. It also elevates your brand value in the eyes of customers who hold the keys to the most powerful marketing channel in your arsenal—word of mouth. Keep in mind that a poorly-designed chatbot can harm instead of help your business. If the chatbot doesn’t understand inquiries or crashes often, it sends a bad message about your brand value and also risks frustrating customers who just want information. You want a direct, conversational way to advertise to customers. We tune out advertisements, direct promotional emails to our inbox, and skip ads on YouTube. As for banner ads, we’ve basically evolved past even seeing them at the bottom of a web page. Businesses are always looking for new ways to advertise to customers since we quickly grow immune to existing promotional strategies. A good chatbot makes you feel like you’re having a conversation with a human. Imagine your online visitors asking a chatbot about the price of your product or service…along with a promotional offer tailored directly to their needs. This is being called “conversational advertising.” Chatbots present an interesting way for your business to diversify its marketing and deliver a real-time conversation with your audience. Carefully assess your business to determine whether you need a chatbot. Although chatbots can deliver a more personalized experience and help to streamline online communications with your prospects and customers, they aren’t for everyone. Chatbots are most effective when you have the need to engage with people online. Which means you need at least a decent presence on social media and within your website. Unfortunately, businesses can waste time building out a chatbot only to hear crickets on the other end. It is also important to map out a process of where and how you will deploy at chatbot in your sales and marketing process. Start first with key areas such as your blog, pricing pages and product demonstration pages. Learn what drives the best engagement, and monitor your chatbot conversations to ensure your visitors aren’t jumping ship before they get to your desired conversion goals. As with any technology, be smart. Remember that technology is most powerful when it propels human engagement, not replaces it all together. By using these five tips to decide if a chatbot is right for you, your business will be in better position to take advantage of the power of online conversations.